Men Stuff…Cause the other word just isn’t ladylike.

Women, I know we get the reputation for being the harder to please sex, but there are days that I feel my whims are well deserved.

Like when Man goes out for deer and he comes home with a rattlesnake.  Then asks you to make fajitas with it.  These are the days that remind me of the other man related things that seep into my every day life.  For instance:

  • the 9,999 screaming for attention around the house, but he found this stand and feeder for one GREAT deal, and it just needs a couple of adjustments
  • when you go to get a family pet and there are retrieving requirements and frozen birds in your deep freeze
  • when the number of animal heads on your walls is the same as the number of children’s photos hung
  • the sheer number of hunting related apparatus that fill our garage, shed and carport
  • so many other hunter related items I have learned to love as part of his charm over the last 13 years.
  • Most days I don’t mind the hunter, fisher, all season outdoorsman.  He’s rugged, tough, and very masculine.  He comes home from the hunt scruffy, happy, and smelling like campfire.  It is part of what makes me feel safe and secure and know our family will always be provided for.  It’s sexy.

    But, then there are days, when he knows.  I am sooooo not finding Mr. Great Outdoors sexy or cute.

    Today is one of those days.  He grins and pokes fun at me a little and says, “baby, this is man s&*t.”

    Yeah, I saw the writing on the wall New Year’s Eve circa 2001 and I married him anyway.  I apologize to my pretty french pan and simmer the snake.  I make myself some yard bird and day dream that I probably earned myself a date night.  No butchering or skinning required.

    Writer’s Note:  The snake was brought home as meat. No skin, no head, no rattle. Looks like a long fish. The snake died because it was in the barn between my son and my husband aactively rattling with its head up. My husband is a hunter and though many may not agree, I can count on one hand the number of animals he has killed and not eaten (he draws the line at rodents).

    Our boys fully understand what it means to harvest an animal, why we eat game opposed to only commercially produced meat, and the ramifications of over population of prey (such as deer) in an area. I can definitely respect Man for those lessons. As for the meat last night…I had chicken. He was fully prepared to eat that one by himself.

    Holiday Checklist, Dinner – Done!

    The hustle bustle is tuning up, and soon moms across the world will have to-do lists longer than their arms.  Please let me give your bustle a little less hustle with planned out meals for the holiday season.

    Daily Dinner Plan – with Crockpot options

    November 30
    Pork Chops with Caramelized Onions, Apples and Thyme, Quick Roasted Asparagus

    December 1
    Diner Comfort Food – Cheesesteak Style or Patty Melt Sandwiches

    December 2
    One Pot Chicken and Rice – you’ll have leftovers, so you won’t have to worry about hubby’s lunch tomorrow or the rice for next week’s soup

    December 3
    Minestrone Soup

    December 4
    Baked Chicken Parmesan or this yummy looking Milanese (less cheese, more calories for cookies) An even easier version is this chicken parmesan casserole you could assemble ahead.

    December 5
    Paula Deen’s Pulled Pork Stuffed into Baked Potatoes (make a double batch of the pork, and you’re ready for next week)

    December 6
    Chicken Cordon Bleu with Steamed or Roasted Veggies and a Green Salad

    December 7
    Baked white fish sliders with not-your-normal cole slaw and oven fries

    December 8
    Shredded Beef Tacos or mix it up with these Korean Style Lettuce Wraps (both of these yield awesome leftovers)

    December 9
    Chicken and Rice Soup

    December 10
    Stuffed Pasta Shells (add in sautéed dark greens instead of meat and make this dish for Meatless Monday) A great reason to make a big pot of marinara and freeze for another busy night.

    December 11
    Texas Chili Bar – no beans here! (brown the meat , onion and garlic, then pop in the crockpot with all the other ingredients so it’s ready when you are)

    Tonight is family game night, and make your own bowls of chili couldn’t be easier! Save the extra cornbread for next week’s stuffed peppers.

    December 12
    Mediterranean Style One Dish Herb Chicken Bake

    December 13
    BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches (this is actually leftover pork from the baked potato night that I froze for a super quick meal)

    December 14
    Veggie Lo Mein

    December 15
    Tis this season for family and friends, so why not make Taco Tuesday an event? Grab a holiday flick or make an impromptu craft or gift wrapping party.  Try these Seven Layer Tostadas

    December 16
    Pioneer Woman’s Pork Chops with Pineapple fried rice

    December 17
    Chicken and Cornbread Stuffed Peppers OR My Stuffed Bell Peppers

    December 18
    My Potato Soup – a nod to my family heritage — so easy and yummy

    December 19
    Broiled Salmon and roasted veggies

    December 20
    Whisky BBQ Meatballs ( I use my BBQ sauce recipe, then  add mashed potatoes (or steamed veggies, or herbed noodles – the side options are endless)

    December 21
    Kid’s Night – Bake cookies, make treats, watch your favorite holiday movie, let them invite friends over for a sleepless slumber party – the kids hang out, then everyone goes home and goes to their own beds for sleeping

    Dinner cooked in muffin tins makes everything easy to divide and easy to eat – Mary Beth’s Knock Your Socks off Meatloaf and Mac and Cheese Cups

    December 22
    Soupeasy dinner so you can get to those last minute items on your list

    December 23
    In Texas, Christmas brings Tamales – order some, or try these cheats

    December 24 & 25
    Christmas Eve & Christmas Day are not included since everyone has their own traditions

    December 26
    With new toys to try and games to play, try one of these breakfast casseroles to start, or end , your day

    December 27
    Supreme Pizza Pasta (toss in the slow cooker or even freeze ahead)

    December 28
    Grilled Venison Backstrap with Gingered Carrots

    December 29
    Pioneer Woman’s Sausage, Potato, and Kale Soup

    December 30
    Baked chimichangas

    December 31
    Stay in Date Nite – going out when you have young children is rare; I don’t want to spend it with crowds

    Chicken Marsala with Garlic Whipped Potatoes & Green Beans with Caramelized Shallots

    Forget the bubbly, this year I’m making these bourbon Blizzards.

    Keep in the Freezer for One of Those Really Long Days – seriously, you don’t even need a side!

    Make a Bunch and Save for Lunch

    Pioneer Woman’s Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork – In the oven or slow cooker, this make it and leave it dish is great on slider rolls with sliced gouda or piled in tortillas with cilantro, queso fresco, sliced avocado, and a lime wedge for quick pork tacos – Plus there are usually plenty of leftovers to freeze and use again*

    Pecan Crusted Chicken – these take some prep up front, but they are easy to make and freeze great

    Browned & seasoned ground beef, bison, or turkey (use in tacos, quesadillas, as pizza toppings)

    Chicken Fajita meat – try this marinade to elevate them beyond normal week night.

    Bring a Little Holiday Spirit into Your Kitchen

    Christmas Scones

    Gingerbread Waffles – I haven’t made these yet, but they are on my must try list

    Fresh Cranberry Scones

    Hosting Guests? These touches are sure to impress

    For their room:

    • Recently I stayed at my brothers’ and one of the most welcome treats was their selection of pillows. Doesn’t sound like much, but with everyone having their own preference, being able to choose was a luxury. Of course, I picked them all!
    • Have an extra throw blanket in the room, especially for those who travel across the country, the climate change can be shocking

    In the Morning:

    • Create a coffee and tea station next to a bowl of fruit so early risers can serve themselves and relax.
    • Your guests will be convinced they’re at a B&B with these breakfasts-Homemade donuts – these puppies are all baked so you can indulge without standing over the frypan or having guilt-Blueberry Baked Oatmeal or Bobby’s Oatmeal Stuffed Apples
    • Baked egg boats would be restaurant worthy
    • Set a loaf of bread to make overnight, so you wake to Fresh Bread machine with make ahead berry butter spread
    • Save some time with this gourmet casserole

    Stock Ahead for Comfy Touches:

    • make sure the bar is stocked, grab an extra bottle of wine to mull (awesome on the day guests are arriving), have some bottled sparkling water or ginger ale on hand
    • early in the month, check dry goods in your pantry so you are prepared for last minute at home meals that come with an unexpected winter storm front
    • make cookie dough and freeze, so fresh baked cookies are quick to whip up

    Fix-Aead Dinners that Feed a Crowd:

    It’s that time of year again! Shopping Lists, Little Elves, and Lots of Holiday Fun!

    Sometimes us moms need a little help keeping it all balanced around the holidays.  With ever ending to-do lists, hard to handle relatives, and busy schedules, it can seem like a real job bringing joy and magic to the season.  I hope my December no-thought meals, What to do with that ELF list, and 2015 gift guide can make your holiday just a little happier!

    What to do with that ELF? list.

    Nov 29 – it’s back! – ours takes the USPS…some throw a party, some arrive toy airplane, by train, or go all out and make a hot air balloon – tonight you’re on your own.

    Nov 30 – spilling DVDs and books all over living room

    Dec 1 – making a paper chain

    Dec 2 – hanging out of cabinet surrounded by police cars

    Dec 3 – drawing minions on the bananas

    Dec 4 – over the door swing on tp roll

    Dec 5 – repelling at window

    Dec 6 – working on the truck

    Dec 7 – digging in M&M bag

    Dec 8 – in a Lincoln log house

    Dec 9 – making paper snowflakes*

    Dec 10 – gift bows all over kitchen

    Dec 11 – playing cards or board game with stuffed animals*

    Dec 12 – riding t-rex

    Dec 13 – hiding in the silverware drawer

    Dec 14 – roasting marshmallows over a candle

    Dec 15 – goldfishing with pole

    Dec 16 – sack race

    Dec 17 – stuck under a weight while working out

    Dec 18 – hiding under a glass (staged to play hide and seek with a toy)

    Dec 19 – riding in the remote control car (doll controlling it)

    Dec 20 – Little people carriage ride with doll

    Dec 21 – checking out a yarn moustache in the mirror

    Dec 22 – posing behind an empty picture frame

    Dec 23 – crepe paper over door

    Dec 24 – praying over Bible/ letter goodbye

    Supplies – police cars, gift bows, bananas, paper lunch sacks, goldfish, cards/game (game night supplies), supplies for paper snowflakes, small hand weight, remote control car, paper chain supplies, little people carriage, crepe paper, brown yarn, M&M’s, Bible/goodbye letter, small picture frame, Little People and doll, drinking glass

    If you are like me, you know you’re going to fall asleep or forget to move the little guy at least once, so plan ahead with a little Pinterest help…

    Thankful for the Beautiful

    If you haven’t ever read these familiar lyrics completely through, today is a great day to do so. Thankful for so many blessings. All too often we take things for granted.

    O, beautiful for spacious skies, 

    For amber waves of grain,   

    For purple mountain majesties 

    Above the fruited plain! 

    America! America! 

    God shed his grace on thee 

    And crown thy good with brotherhood 

    From sea to shining sea! 
    O beautiful for pilgrim feet 

    Whose stern impassioned stress

    A thoroughfare of freedom beat 

    Across the wilderness! 

    America! America! 

    God mend thine every flaw, 

    Confirm thy soul in self-control, 

    Thy liberty in law! 
    O beautiful for heroes proved 

    In liberating strife. 

    Who more than self their country loved

    And mercy more than life! 

    America! America! 

    May God thy gold refine 

    Till all success be nobleness 

    And every gain divine! 
    O beautiful for patriot dream 

    That sees beyond the years 

    Thine alabaster cities gleam 

    Undimmed by human tears! 

    America! America! 

    God shed his grace on thee 

    And crown thy good with brotherhood 

    From sea to shining sea! 

    Katharine Lee Bates

    Hope despite the ominousness

    Recently, I visited my brother up in Washington and I commented on how beautiful Mount Rainier was and how interesting it was that some days it faded from sight. My brother said, “yeah, it’s always loomin on the horizon”. To which I replied that looming was a strong word.  Of course he rebutted, “you know, it’s a volcano”. Well, in my ignorance, I did not.  It did get me to thinking… despite ominous outlooks for so many things in our lives and the unrest in our country and abroad, we can look for the good in the world and have hope.

    Happy Fall Y’all

    In a great land, not so far away, there lived a mom of three little children.  Every autumn, when the winds begin to blow and the leaves float to the ground, she is reminded, she married a hunter.  

      
    Here’s how autumn life goes when you are a have three small children and one hunting husband…

    1. Friday night finish all the laundry and plan to make sure Saturday’s breakfast will not leave any dirty dishes. Pack up the family to spend Saturday morning at the ball park and the rest of the weekend at the hunting lease. 

    2. Make hot cocoa for the soon to be very restless non-ball playing almost three year old, coffee for yourself, and breakfast for everyone. Pack water bottles, bleacher seat, snacks, hats, and sunscreen and head off at an unGodly hour for pee wee games. Watch cuties play ball for three and a half hours. Make one not so quick Academy trip, grab lunch, load up, (checking again for smelly laundry, dirty dishes or stinky trash that will be beyond disgusting in 48 hours) four hours in the truck with the hubby and sleepy little ones, get to lease, (pull out your shiny new shotgun) dove hunt, get a lesson in fetching and harvesting birds, watch hubs help a guy with his tire, grab dinner at THE restaurant in town, head to hotel (thank you sweet Man), clean everyone, get “rest” next to tornado two-year-old. 

    3. Wake up next to tornado two-year-old at 2:30 AM convinced that it is unGodly hunting hour; husband assures you it is indeed the middle of the night.  Grab breakfast burritos (and a granola bar for mom) at the local Gas station and head to the lease for the morning hunt.  Read the Bible, play spot the dove for dad, and watch the sunrise. Reflect on how peaceful it is to sit and watch the sun peak out from behind the clouds, birds flutter about, and ripples of the tank.  Glance around and remind self it is peaceful because you have in earplugs.  Decide overtired kids will not be still or quiet, so head to the other gas station in town for a morning lunch of homemade steak fingers and burgers.  Take kids back to the lease and watch them give up bickering for playing games and collecting rocks, sticks, and bugs together. Realize we have a flat and console distraught two-year-old while husband changes the flat. 

    4. Enjoy calm conversation with the Hunter while listening to quiet snores from the back seat as you head home.  Decide to round ou the three squares with delivery pizza.  Unload everything from the truck.  Send the kids to the backyard to run around and get the crazies out.  Watch them push each other around on the petal car and think…yeah, we should do his more often.  Finish dinner, clean everyone, and put the kids to dinner.  Share beers while the Hunter debones the dove.  Collapse into bed and pray there are no tornados tonight.

    a fresh school year and a fresh perspective

    Ten years ago this school year, I left the house in my new suit and heels for my first day of school on the other side of the desks.  I was young, a new graduate, and I needed to support my husband and I while he went to school for his dream career.  I loved school so much, I figured teaching would be a good fit.  I must have been right because eight years later, I was still in the classroom, but longing to be home with my babies.

    This morning, I began my ninth year of teaching.  I wore flip flops and shorts, and no one cared.  I started class a few minutes late so I could squeeze in a morning workout, and there were no reprimands.  There were no bells, no jammed lockers, and no buses to flag down at the end of the day.

    We talked about God, read the Bible, and no one objected.  The students asked questions and we paused for discussion until intrigue was satisfied.  I listened to my kids play, read, and run around in the backyard.  I had time to prepare for tomorrow and still make dinner fresh from the lease.

    I think I could get used to this…

     Dove en Brochette, from Texas Monthly Bacon Wrapped Dove (adapted since Man doesn’t do cream cheese y’all), game advice from Those doves you bagged are tasty, if you cook them right.

     

    Prepping for fall: the back to school dinner debacle

    I love the idea of having a pantry stocked and ready freezer full, and not ordering pizza, grabbing fast food, or eating way late on busy nights. as with most things in mothering, a little advance preparation goes a long way. Below are some options to help you find a dinner plan that fits your family.

    I love this spin on meal planning from Beauty Through Imperfection! Such a simple and easy solution. 

    Erica at Confessions of a Homeschooler (my new favorite blog for all things home) has monthly meal plan calendars all set and ready to download. Just another way she makes life a little easier for us regular folk! 

    For those of us who have the room and are willing to do a little more advance prep, freezer cooking is so nice. 

    I actually tried my first round of freezer cooking right before baby girl was born. It went okay.  Back to school and sports has driven me to try, try again. For this round, I am a little more seasoned. I stuck with recipes I know score well. SO, I thought I would share my plan with you. 

    I like to follow the cook & freeze extra for most of my freezer stock. It’s just easier for me versus two days of three to four hours of shopping & prep. Plus, I feel like I’m not breaking the bank with one monster shopping trip. I’m also a sucker for the assemble, freeze, and dump in the crockpot later plan. 

    I will plan my menus for the month of Septwmber off of the following list, making sure I fix every dish at least once. This way I can still plan according to my store’s weekly deals. Each of these recipes will be doubled and the excess frozen. This is especially helpful on time consuming recipes. Once you are committed time wise and the mess is made, it not much of a pain to work a bit longer for that extra day of cooking freedom. For the mixes and kits I will buy the ingredients for a couple recipes each shopping trip.

    Breakfast
    Blueberry muffins
    Banana bread
    Waffle sticks
    Pancake mix
    Breakfast burritos
    Granola
    Cinnamon rolls
    French toast
    Scones
    Mini frittata

    Meals
    Beef enchiladas
    Chicken enchiladas (sans sauce, to be made serving day)
    Chicken chile relleno casserole
    Sloppy joe filling
    Dirty rice kit
    Lasagna
    Italian Sausage & peppers
    Taco meat
    Meat sauce
    Turkey toquitos
    Chicken chile toquitos
    Shredded beef tacos
    BBQ pork
    Shredded spicy DP pork
    Garlic lime chicken
    Meatloaf cups
    Pork chops
    Marinated pork tenderloin
    King ranch chicken casserole
    Chicken pot pie

    Soup de jour
    Minestrone
    Cheeseburger soup
    Tortilla soup
    Tomato soup base
    Chicken noodle soup base
    Wedding soup base

    Freezer stockpile
    Smoothie packs
    Marinara
    Meatballs
    Tex, teriyaki, and Mediterranean spiced chicken
    Organic veggies
    Chicken nuggets – if you have a good baked version- I’m all ears, please send it in!
    Chili meat (browned and seasoned)
    Pizza dough
    Pie crust
    Pizza sauce
    Pesto
    Apple crumble
    Cookie dough
    Pound cake
    Popsicles

    Pantry
    Rice
    Pasta
    Oats
    Jarred salsa
    Chipotle peppers
    Green chiles
    Chipotle peppers in adobo
    Vegetarian refried beans
    Canelini & black beans
    Chocolate chips
    Maple syrup

    Mixes
    Taco seasoning
    Ranch seasoning
    Cinnamon sugar 
    Tex-Mex Seasoning

    Checkmate. Ready for fall.

    20140525-005650.jpg

    Need a little more inspiration? Check out my Dinner Advent Calendar from the holidays last year.

    Perspective

    The first six months of this year have started with such divide and turmoil in our country, I love this verse.”Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”

    Perspective. 

    An Old Fashioned 4th of July:  Summertime Classics Remodeled

    Happy America Day! I must admit, I love seeing all the red, white, and blue, watching fireworks, and spending a long summer day with my family. Over our brief history, The USA has undergone many changes, and this week has left me a bit nastaglic about the pride, honor, and dedication of so many Americans in that history. We are so thankful for our military and their families, and so blessed to live in a country that offers so many freedoms and liberties. Let us never lose sight of that.

    Speaking of patriotism, try this amazing cute & informative book out with the kids.

    20140525-010213.jpg

    Now…on to food. Cause we all know that’s most important. Wink, wink. Sometimes even the classics need a little tune up.

    Blueberry Thyme Lemonade
    My basic lemonade recipe with bouncing berries floating along side thyme sprigs.

    Watermelon Cooler
    Gather:
    3 cups watermelon, puréed in blender and ran through seive
    Bunch of clean mint, leaves torn from stems & stems discarded
    2 large scoops of ice
    optional: splash of ginger ale, sparkling water, your fave vodka or rum.
    Blend, pour into glass & sip lazily.

    Roasted Potato Salad With Crispy Garlic and Warm Bacon Vinaigrette
    20140510-213334.jpgI fiddled with this version from The Cozy Apron and oh, goodness it’s good. In family of Germans, warm potato salad with a vinegary kick is nothing new, but the crispy garlic and lack of sometimes overpowering mustard make this version stellar.
    Gather:
    6 red skinned potatoes, medium dice
    6 strips uncured bacon, ribboned, fried until crisp & 3T drippings reserved
    1 medium red onion, quartered & thinly sliced
    4 substantial cloves garlic, thinly sliced
    2 heaping Tablespoons chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
    1 Tablespoon finely chopped chives
    Olive oil
    Salt & pepper to taste

    20140525-005815.jpgRoasted Broccoli Salad

    A healthy spin on a BBQ favorite.  Roasting the ingredients offers a super punch of taste in this simple recipe.
    Gather:
    1 bunch of seedless red grapes, removed from stem
    1 large crown of broccoli, cleaned and trimmed into florets
    4-6 slices of bacon
    1/4 red onion, diced
    2-4 cloves garlic, peeled
    olive oil
    salt & pepper, to taste
    To Make:
    Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line two sheet pans with foil.  On one, line up four to six slices of bacon.  On the other, mound broccoli and grapes, drizzle olive oil, salt & pepper. For extra flavor, toss on some garlic and chopped red onion to roast with broccoli.  Roast for about 20 min, turning bacon about halfway through cooking.  Remove bacon, drain, and crumble. Cool other components briefly on pan, toss all together, and add shards of sharp white cheddar or parmesan cheese.  Dress with additional oil and s&p if desired. Serve hot, cold, or at room temperature.20140525-005854.jpg

    Macaroni Salad
    A hold over from my younger days, this macaroni salad is made without mayonnaise — making it pleasing to almost everyone.
    Gather:
    1 # uncooked small elbow macaroni
    3/4 cup small curd cottage cheese
    1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
    1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
    2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    1 teaspoon salt and pepper grill seasoning
    2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
    1 1/2 cups whole kernel corn (if you have time, roast or grill for added flavor)
    1 cup diced sharp cheddar cheese
    3 whole green onions, thinly sliced
    1 Tablespoon fresh basil, chiffonade
    1 Tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
    1 Tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
    1 Tablespoon fresh tarragon, chopped
    small bunch fresh chives, thinly sliced
    plash spicy pickle juice
    To Make:
    Prepare macaroni according to package directions; drain and rinse briefly.
    Puree the cottage cheese until smooth. Add in the vinegar, yogurt, oil, herbs (except basil), salt and pepper, and pickle juice and mix thoroughly.
    In a large bowl, combine macaroni with dressing. Allow to refrigerate a couple of hours. Add in corn, tomatoes, green onion, basil, and cubed cheese before serving.

    Round out the meal with a summer classic, the cherry pie. We made mini ones so everyone could grab & go.